Court of Appeal leaves Molibeli a frustrated man



Mohalenyane Phakela

POLICE Commissioner Holomo Molibeli is probably a frustrated man. This after the Court of Appeal refused to hear his application for the nullification of the September 2020 High Court judgement which revoked his 7 August 2020 dismissal of Lesotho Police Staff Association (LEPOSA) national treasurer, Lance Sergeant ‘Mathebe Motseki.

The case was supposed to be heard on Monday by the Court of Appeal bench comprising of its president Kananelo Mosito and fellow judges, Phillip Musonda (from Zambia) and Johann Van Der Westhuizen (South Africa).

However, Justice Mosito ruled that the case could not proceed in the absence of records showing the reasons why High Court Judge Tšeliso Monapathi ruled in favour of Lance Sergeant Motseki.

Justice Mosito said they would have to first seek reasons from Justice Monapathi explaining his judgement. Much to Commissioner Molibeli’s probable frustration, the apex court president said they might even postpone the matter to the next Court of Appeal session in October this year to give the High Court time to furnish them with the written reasons for Justice Monapathi’s verdict.

“It will be improper for us to hear this case without reasons,” Justice Mosito said.

“We might have to postpone this matter to the next session in order to get reasons from the judge (Justice Monapathi). We will also copy our order (not to hear the case) to the Chief Justice (Sakoane Sakoane).

“The matter is postponed to 14 May 2021 for us to give reasons in respect of the route we want to take,” Justice Mosito ordered.

Before his order, fellow Judge Van Der Westhuizen had also lamented the absence of a written judgement with the reasons for Justice Monapathi’s judgement.

“How can we have an appeal when we do not have a judgement? If we do not have reasons in the judgement, what do we have to overturn when we do not know what the judge (Justice Monapathi) based himself on when making his decision,” Justice Westhuizen asked rhetorically.

Last week at the opening of the Court of Appeal session, Justice Mosito railed at errant High Court judges and implored Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane to “crap the whip” on those who fail to provide written reasons for their judgements.

He said the majority of the High Court judgements currently being interrogated by the apex court do not have any written reasons explaining how and why they were arrived at.

He said the judges’ negligence was frustrating the work of the apex court as it was difficult for them to decide whether the judges’ had followed sound legal principles in arriving at their decisions.

He even warned that High Court judgements, not accompanied by written reasons, could be overturned simply on the grounds that the judges would have breached their obligations to justify why they had reached such decisions in the first place.

Meanwhile, Lance Sergeant Motseki will remain at work.

She was fired by Commissioner Molibeli on 7 August 2020 for allegedly tarnishing the image of the police command. This after she had publicly accused the police bosses of transferring some police officers as punishment for opening a case against former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane for allegedly assaulting a Maseru man at State House in January 2019.

Lance Sergeant Motseki is also said to have tarnished the image of the police command by publicly accusing it of failing to arrest Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Paseka Mokete after a female junior police officer accused him of sexual assault in April 2020. DCP Mokete’s case is pending before the courts.

Following her dismissal, Lance Sergeant Motseki successfully petitioned the High Court to revoke the decision on the grounds that Commissioner Molibeli acted without consulting the Police and Public Safety Minister ‘Mamoipone Senauoane.

Lance Sergeant Motseki subsequently resumed her duties on 11 September 2020 in line with Justice Monapathi’s 9 September 2020 High Court judgement which revoked her dismissal.

Not satisfied with the High Court verdict, Commissioner Molibeli appealed to the apex court. In his appeal papers, Commissioner Molibeli argues that he informed Minister Senauoane about his intention to fire Lance Sgt Motseki and thus he acted within the law.

Therefore, Lance Sergeant Motseki’s dismissal is lawful and the High Court erred in revoking it, Commissioner Molibeli argues.


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